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Robben Island - Aerial View

Robben Island - Aerial View Geography Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs

Robben Island lies off the coast of Cape Town and, according to the Robben Island Museum, has been an off-and-on prison site for hundreds of years:

People lived on Robben Island many thousands of years ago, when the sea channel between the Island and the Cape mainland was not covered with water. Since the Dutch settled at the Cape in the mid-1600s, Robben Island has been used primarily as a prison.

Because of its isolation, the island also served as a hospital for people who had leprosy (among other conditions):

Robben Island has not only been used as a prison. It was a training and defence station in World War II (1939-1945) and a hospital for people with leprosy, and the mentally and chronically ill (1846-1931).

In the 1840s, Robben Island was chosen for a hospital because it was regarded as both secure (isolating dangerous cases) and healthy (providing a good environment for cure). During this time, political and common-law prisoners were still kept on the Island.

As there was no cure and little effective treatment available for leprosy, mental illness and other chronic illnesses in the 1800s, Robben Island was a kind of prison for the hospital patients too.

African chiefs were also banished to Robben Island, during the nineteenth century:

Throughout the nineteenth century, numerous leaders of Xhosa, Khoi, Gcaleka in the Eastern Cape, the Korana in Northern Cape, and the Hlubi in Natal, were banished to the Island. They lived in traditional structures to the north of the bay, geographically separated from the village in the southeast.

It was to this island that Nelson Mandela was sent in 1964.  He was slated to serve a life sentence.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5186stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jun 20, 2019


Media Credits

Aerial image of Robben Island, online courtesy Ezakwantu.com

Quoted passages, online courtesy Robben Island Museum.

 

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"Robben Island - Aerial View" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jun 20, 2019.
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